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This post was edited by SherrySongSHSF at 2017-8-16 16:04|
Two years ago, Davis from Canada used an agent from China to help him find a teaching job in Beijing and secure a work visa. Instead of finding his dream job, his identity and credit card information were stolen, and the thief ran up a bill of over $7,000 on his card.
"I had just come to China at that time. I didn't know anyone, and I didn't understand a word of Chinese, so I found an agent online to help me to find work and get a proper Z visa," Davis said. "I came to China on a business visa, and I was trying to find a job and get a Z visa."
China is attracting more foreigners from around the world in recent years. They come for work opportunities, study or pleasure.
More than 200,000 foreigners work in China legally, and 400,000 family members came with them, a July report published by Chinese newspaper Cankao Xiaoxi cited the 2010 national demographic census survey as saying. The report also said the number of foreigners seeking employment in China is increasing.
With the increasing number of foreign visitors, many fraudulent agencies have started to target foreigners for identity theft. They sell the stolen information to criminals, and many foreigners fall victim to their tricks.
Protect your identity
Davis sent his resume to several agencies for teaching positions. A woman, who called herself Tiffany Tang and said she was from a company called East-West Education, contacted him.
Tang said she had a good position teaching English at an international school for him. She set up a phone interview with Davis in which she asked about his educational background and credentials.
"She told me that I was the perfect candidate for the position and asked me to go to her office for a person-to-person interview at Galaxy SOHO in Dongcheng district, where her office was located," Davis said.
"When the day came, she suddenly called me, saying that she is out for a meeting that day and can meet me at a coffee shop in the Guomao area in Chaoyang district for convenience. I didn't give it a second thought and agreed."
The meeting was pleasant. When it was over, Tiffany said that as the head of HR at the company, she was confident that Davis is the right person for the job. She told Davis that he could start work in about two weeks after he emailed her the papers she needed to start entry formalities.
"Her English was perfect, and her dress and manners were all very professional, so [it did not occur to me that] she could be a crook," he said.
Davis emailed her his passport scans, a copy of his diplomas and taxpayer ID number according to her request.
After submitting the papers, Davis started counting down the days until he would start his new job. However, Tiffany kept postponing his start date. She told Davis that the director of the teaching department was on vacation, so his schedule could not be arranged. Then, a month later, she called saying that the home office filled the position, but she would keep his resume on file in case of an opening.
"I was very frustrated, but I didn't suspect anything yet," Davis said.
Afterward, several recruiters called Davis even though he didn't submit his resume to their organizations.
"[That was when] I realized my personal information could have been stolen and sold. But I didn't think anything serious would happen, so I just kept on with the job hunting process," he said.
However, four months after he finally landed a teaching job in Beijing, things started to go off the rails. When a bank in the US called, saying that he owed over $7,000 on his credit card and that his credit rating will be lowered if he doesn't pay it back, Davis called the local Chinese police.
After the investigation, the police said Tiffany stole his personal information. But Davis still ended up spending $5,000 in legal fees to unfreeze his account and restore his credit rating.
"It has taught me a hard lesson about trusting my information and papers to a stranger," Davis said.
The police still haven't found Tiffany Tang yet, according to Davis.
How to spot fake agents
According to Chinascamwatch.org, a website founded by foreign anti-scam volunteers to help expats in China, ID thieves in China are posing as various headhunters, HR managers, and ESL School recruiters. After they steal a foreigner's information, they tend to sell it to criminals for things such as credit card fraud, IRS tax refund fraud and automobile financing fraud.
Sawyer Bao, a lawyer who has helped a few foreigners with their identity theft cases, gave a few tips on how to spot fraudsters.
Bao said the swindlers often have something in common. For example, all the employees use English names like David Liu, which are virtually untraceable.
Also, their website is often less than a year old, or they don't have one at all. If they have a website, it will have no verifiable office address, no landline telephone number, and use free email addresses like Gmail.com, Hotmail.com, Sina.com, 163.com, QQ.com, 126.com, and Yahoo.com, he said.
They also do not have a color scan copy of their State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) Chinese business license, which can be verified online.
According to Bao, swindlers often request copies of foreigners' passports and taxpayer ID (SSN) before giving them any written job offer or contract. He said they often claim that there is someone else with the same name as the job seeker in their computer system and that they need his or her personal information to clarify the matter with the Chinese visa bureau.
"They tell you that you don't need a Z visa right away and to just come to China on an L, F, or M visa, and they offer to sell you a fake diploma, a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate, or a Foreign Expert Certificate (FEC)," Bao said.
"They will also tell you that you must use a visa agent because the application process is very complicated and confusing, and all the forms are in Chinese, which is not true. Also, they will tell you that you must give your passport to your Chinese employer for a three to six months probationary period, which is also not true."
Other tricks include making foreigners fill out their visa application in Chinese so that they cannot understand if they are being lied to or not, never giving email confirmations only verbal promises, pushing job seekers to sign a contract in a short time frame, and asking for money up front or a deposit of any kind.
"The key is not to give anyone crucial information such as passport and taxpayer numbers until you have been issued a valid contract," Bao said.
"Job hunters should also check the agency information and that of the company that contacted them to see if they are on any scam blacklist." (News from thr Global Times)